Thursday, September 12, 2002

The MAD Pot-Bellied Indian Man

What Anne Charmaine has to contend with in her neck of the woods! You gotta read the Mad Pot Bellied Indian Man with the messed up hair and full grown beard story! Annie, if you ever write a novel, I'll be the first to purchase it!

Annie speaks of "Betel nut red" goo [saliva] and that's what prompted my post. I never knew what a betel nut was until I traveled to Mindanao, the southern most island of the Philippine archipelago. There, in the dense jungle of Surigao and Agusan del Sur, the Filipino people chew this nut for the effect it gives.

Betel nuts contain an alkaloid called arecoline. This alkaloid produces a stimulating effect and increases salivation [lucky for Annie]. In the Philippines it is said that Betel nuts are a common substitute for cigarettes and are often rolled in a quid, containing tobacco and other flavorings.

While strolling down a well-worn path through the jungle, one bright, sunny, excruciatingly humid day in the southern Philippines, I noticed some smoke rising from deep within the jungle. Together with a friend, I ventured down a narrow footpath, eventually coming to a very old woman tending a smoldering fire. The woman was making charcoal from coconut shell husks, silently poking at the charred chunks laying in a shallow hole in the ground. Her face was a leather mask of deep furrows interrupted only by the hollow pits that held her eyes and her mouth, a shriveled opening screwed into a smile....

It was then that I saw, in horror, the blood trickling from the corner of her mouth. After my friend and I had exhausted our welcome and it was apparent to my friend that her dialect did not correspond with this old woman's language, we left. Once a good distance away, I expressed my horror at her obvious internal bleeding.

"She's not bleeding Jeeem! She's chewing betel nuts!"

Not quite a Mad Pot-Bellied Indian Man Story, but not bad eh?



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